If all you are doing is buying a few analog business lines from your local phone company and running them through a small business phone system you got at one of the big box office stores, you’ve pretty much got what you are going to get. Small companies have a way of growing to become medium size companies, however, and a two or four line system with a half dozen desk sets is quickly outgrown.
This is where most businesses call in a local phone system dealer who installs and maintains a particular brand of business phone system. With an in-house PBX (Private Branch Exchange), you’ll be adding more outside lines but now you have the opportunity to shop around. You can get your analog lines from a competitive provider or move up to digital trunk lines to save money once you get more than 6 to 12 lines.
MegaPath, a major competitive carrier with a nationwide service footprint, has a service called Integrated Voice specifically tailored to SMBs with their own PBX systems. They provide the outside lines that connect your PBX system to the world. The interface can be traditional analog lines for smaller systems, T1-CAS or ISDN-PRI digital trunks for medium and larger systems, or SIP Trunking for the newer IP PBX systems that support enterprise VoIP.
The Integrated feature of Integrated Voice is that you get both telephone and broadband service over the same dynamic DSL, T1 or Ethernet connection. This is a bit different from simply adding a third party VoIP service to your broadband service. With Integrated Voice, the combined data/voice is carefully managed to ensure that voice packets have priority over data packets so that using your computers won’t cause the telephone calls to break up. Any time a phone wants to make or receive a call, the bandwidth for this is reserved from the Integrated pool. Bandwidth not used for phone calls is automatically assigned for broadband Internet access.
Integrated Voice services are popular with small to medium size businesses because nearly every business needs both telephone lines and broadband Internet access. You can pay for these separately or have a more efficient and cost effective solution that combines the two.
Hosted Voice is a different animal. With hosted services, you no longer have a PBX system on your premises. Instead, you use a much larger PBX that is located at your service provider. It’s as if the service provider has become the new phone company. All you have in-house are telephones. These can be traditional phones that connect to an adaptor called a voice gateway or SIP Phones that are designed to connect directly to your network.
Hosted Voice services, also known as hosted PBX, are popular with companies that haven’t invested in their own PBX system or want to avoid the capital outlay for a needed upgrade and the ongoing maintenance headaches. All of those issues move to the service provider. As a user, you don’t perceive that the phone system is in the cloud rather than in the basement of your building. You may also enjoy advanced features such as remote worker, find me/follow me, simultaneous ring, auto attendants and hunt groups that weren’t available on your old PBX system.
MegaPath has been offering both the Integrated Voice and Hosted Voice services. What they’re doing now is giving businesses the chance to add Hosted Voice features to their Integrated Voice service as an overlay to their lines or trunks. This offers the opportunity for companies to gain more features almost instantly without the headache and expense of completely redoing their phone system right away. It’s something of a hybrid cloud approach where some of the equipment is on-site and some is in the cloud at the service provider’s facility.
Are you interested in upgrading your current business phone system with more advanced features or getting a better price on phone lines and trunks? If so, check out Integrated and Hosted Voice Services for business locations to find the mix that works best for you.